Employee Privacy Rights: Just How Much Privacy Do They Have?

HR Bulletin

Did you know that our state’s constitution affords all of us, including your employees, numerous privacy rights? This right to privacy comes into play in many employment areas such as monitoring, recordings, personal smart phones, drug and alcohol testing, off-work activity, social media, medical examinations, health information and even how you file employee records.

Take employee’s smart phones as an example. A recent Supreme Court ruling, California v. Riley, sent an indirect warning to employers about searching an employee’s personal smart phone even if being used for company business. Exceptions to searching personal smart phones include a “strong legitimate business reason” or a search warrant. This recent case ruling highlighted the court’s view of the large amount of information stored on a smart phone (versus a purse, backpack or wallet) that reveals very personal, private information about an individual such as likes and dislikes through installed apps, calls, emails, texts, photos, videos, internet history, music and more.

How your employees spend their time off the clock (e.g. social affiliations, religious activities, family, and friendships) is their business. While it’s true that how they conduct themselves outside of work could reflect negatively on your business, employees have the right to engage in any lawful off-duty conduct.

Sierra HR Partners is available to answer any questions and assist in developing sound policies and practices that protect your business while respecting privacy rights.


New definitions for Paid Family Leave brochure


Here is some good news for anyone needing Paid Family Leave. Effective July 1, 2014, California’s Paid Family Leave brochure was updated to include new family member definitions, including grandparent, grandchild, sibling, and parent-in-law.

The new form (DE 2511 Rev.9) is available in both English and Spanish.

Contact us at Sierra HR Partners to find out how to get your copy of the Paid Family Leave brochure, or if you have any questions about the new definitions.


How to take control of employee turnover


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national quit rate (the percentage of gainfully employed who left their jobs voluntarily) is near a five-year high that is back to pre-recession levels, indicating rising confidence in finding new opportunities.

An improved economy means high performers have more employment opportunities than ever. Before they begin exploring greener pastures, ask yourself: Am I recognizing their hard work and contributions? Do I know what makes them tick? Am I offering competitive pay, benefits, flexible scheduling and professional development opportunities that other companies provide?

The cost of employee turnover is high and burdensome. Sierra HR Partners is available to discuss retention strategies that fit your business model.


Attracting and retaining your talent


As our local economy continues to recover, we’re observing new job creation, and people feeling more comfortable in pursuing new opportunities. Are you ready for this shift?

According to a recent study by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), the three biggest HR challenges over the next 10 years are retaining and rewarding the best employees (59%), developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52%), and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees to organizations (36%).

One key component of attracting and retaining your valuable staff is a competitive compensation and benefits package. Do you know what your competitors are offering?

If not, you should. Sierra HR Partners has successfully conducted comprehensive salary studies for a variety of industries. As a neutral third party, we are in a unique position to obtain confidential wage, benefits and operational data, while ensuring confidentiality of participating organizations.


What California’s minimum wage increase means to you


California now holds the title for the state with the highest minimum wage in the country.

Effective July 1, 2015, employers were required to pay employees at least $9/hr. Effective January 1, 2016, it increased again to $10/hr. This means several important things for you as business owners and managers, including but not limited to:

  • Evaluate your current salary structure to determine how the increase will affect pay ranges for all positions.
  • Exempt commission salespeople need to earn at least $15.00/hr. under wage order 4 and 7.
  • White collar overtime exemption requires a minimum monthly salary of $3,466.67 (based on a 40-hour work week).

We recommend taking several steps to ensure compliance with the new law including assessing your wage, employee classification and timekeeping practices.

Remember: As a valued HR Business Partner, we are here to assist!